The Port Authority Is a Disaster and Should Be Disbanded

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 13 2014 3:59 PM

The Port Authority Is a Disaster and Should Be Disbanded

461563381-traffic-drives-across-the-george-washington-bridge
Ceci n'est pas un port.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

One important subtheme in the Chris Christie George Washington Bridge scandal is that whether the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shut the lanes in question down on Christie's orders or merely as part of a rogue Christie-aligned scheme, the authority was staffed with Christie's political cronies. That's par for the course in terms of Port Authority staffing, but it's literally the opposite of the stated purpose of creating independent agencies.

The theory was that you needed an independent agency controlled by a joint N.Y./N.J. board to supervise projects of interest to both state. The reality has been for governors of both New York and New Jersey to treat the authority is a kind of neither fish nor fowl piggy bank to be milked for parochial interests. Meanwhile there are no meaningful synergies between operating a small subway station, running the Atlantic City Airport, and operating a container port. The whole thing should be broken down and disbanded:

Advertisement
  • Put the bridges and tunnels under the control of MTA Bridges and Tunnels which runs the city's other bridges and tunnels, and in exchange give New Jersey Transit a fixed share of toll revenue from the Hudson River crossings.
  • Put the PATH train under the control of New Jersey Transit, which runs other commuter trains into Manhattan.
  • Let the various airports all go their separate ways. They don't need to be managed by a single entity.
  • Give AirTrain JFK to the NYC Subway.
  • Sell the random real-estate holdings.

This would then leave you with the actual seaports. I have no idea whether it's actually true that seaport management in this context requires a bistate agency. Maybe a rump Port Authority could keep running them. Or maybe they could be split up. But either way there's no need for a seaport administrating entity to become this regional transportation monstrosity. The MTA and New Jersey Transit are hardly perfect agencies, but at least we know which governor to blame for their failings!

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.